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Horse Nettle Blooming in Wakulla County

Delicate flowers disguise the potential problems of Horsenettle. 

The dainty yellow and white flowers belie the disaster potential of the plants. Horsenettles (Solanum carolinense) are blooming and producing fruit in Wakulla County.

Horsenettle can be a serious weed problem in Florida’s perennial grass pastures, hay producing operations and along fence rows. The result of infestation is reduced usable forage production and lower stocking rates.

The Horse-nettle’s fruit is toxic and has caused the death of cattle. Cattle do not usually choose to graze this plant when forage is abundant, but when quality forage is limited due to poor growing conditions or overstocking they may consume these plants.

The plant can be confused with Tropical Soda Apple (TSA) which is in the same plant family.   Horsenettle is identified by its immature fruit which are green with white mottling, but much small than TSA’s fruit.  The yellow and white flower is quite distinctive (see photo above).

Horsenettle will exploit declining pastures and become established. Bare ground is the perfect environ­ment for establishment of this weed.

Horsenettle seeds can be transported in hay, harvested grass seed, sod, mowing equipment, or dispersed by water, and wildlife. Producers should avoid buying hay contaminated with Horse-nettles as seed are likely to be included.

Scouting and prompt treatment are recommended.  This weed can be controlled with herbicide applications of Milestone or Grazon Next.  For more information on controlling horsenettle and other pasture weeds, download:  Weed Management in Pasture and Rangeland – 2012

2 Comments on “Horse Nettle Blooming in Wakulla County

  1. Horsenettle has become very invasive in one of our hay pastures where we grow Pennington Cheyenne Bermuda grass for horses. How can we get this under control without using herbicides unsafe for horses?

    • There are two herbicides that can be used to control horse nettles: the best choice is GrazonNext, and the other option is Remedy. Both products have a zero day grazing restriction, so they can be sprayed with the horses in the pasture. If the horse nettles are not everywhere you can spot treat the weeds and greatly reduce bot the cost and exposure to the herbicides. The GrazonNext is the preferred product, because it not only kills the weds, but also will control seedlings that emerge for several months after application.